This weekend Longacre Hunt is hosting its annual Beach Hunt. Amanda Ronan recaps the 2012 event and confirms that yes, galloping after hounds on a beach IS as fun as it sounds.
Spurred by the 2007 movie of the same name, over two years ago I made my very own Bucket List. Between the improbable “compete in the Rolex” and the impossible “perfect my horse’s trot” sat #7: gallop my horse on a beach. I still remember being mesmerized by the iconic image of Alec atop his Black Stallion in the 1979 movie, as they charged along the water’s edge. Unfortunately the reality is that when you aren’t shipwrecked and stranded on a deserted island, beach riding is all but impossible due to various zoning laws and local ordinances.
However, for the second year in a row I was able to put a big, fat check mark next to #7 on my bucket list, thanks to the Longacre Hunt Club. Founded in 1993 by Ruth O’Hara MFH, the Longacre Hunt Club prides itself on making its events family-friendly fun for all and the beach hunt is no exception.
The event was held at Quintana Beach in Freeport, Texas, on January 28, 2012. Longacre organizers placed four jumps, ranging 2’ to 2’6”, over the course of a mile down the stretch of sand. These jumps consisted of old Christmas trees and PVC fence panels. The event was informal and everyone was comfortably dressed for an equestrian beach day.
As the riders arrived, everyone greeted each other with smiles and waves, eager for the action to begin. The hounds arrived shortly after, and MFH/Huntsman, John deLeyer, called out “Riders Up!” The riders joined their prospective fields. First Field, the fastest field, runs just behind the hounds. Second Field follows at a strong canter, and the Third Field follows at a walk or trot. John, spotting a few new riders, said, “Okay, ladies, remember if your horse gets too fast you can take him further in to the beach in the deep sand and that will slow him down. If he’s really getting out of control you can take them in the water and that will stop them completely.” “Or be a softer spot to land,” he added with a smile.
As the bugle called, the hounds were released and the groups galloped, cantered or trotted away down the beach. Most of the riders guided their horses skillfully up and over the jumps. Those who chose not to jump looked no less exhilarated. Smiles abounded and everyone seemed to be having a “jolly good time.”
On the return trip, the riders were encouraged to play in the surf and gallop through the sand dunes. The dunes were particularly challenging, with steep inclines and even steeper declines.
After the ride, Longacre members and guests enjoyed a potluck lunch complete with giant pots of homemade, steaming gumbo, sausage, hot chili, fresh bread, chips, cookies, cupcakes and pies. Riders enjoyed a celebratory toast of champagne or whiskey and everyone filled their bellies to bursting.
A friendlier, warmer group of people could not be found. Although not a member, I enjoy riding with the Longacre Hunt Club as much as possible and hope to continue to do so in the future.
Want to live vicariously through Amanda’s story? We found this helmet cam video from the 2011 Beach Hunt on YouTube.
About Amanda: I’m a 28-year-old from Texas, and I’ve been officially riding horses since I was 8-years-old, when I started 4-H. I’ve ridden with AQHA, local dressage clubs, local foxhunt clubs and am currently competing my 2001 OTTB in Beginner Novice eventing. I have a BS in Sociology with a minor in Anthropology. I have been married for 5 years to my husband, Josh, and we have a beautiful 3 year old daughter, Sydney. I am a stay-at-home mom and a part-time working student with a local H/J barn, Oaklawn Stables.